Injury update on Hartlepool United duo

Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

Craig Hignett is hanging on to the slim hope that Rob Jones will be fit to come to Hartlepool United's defensive aid.

But Matthew Bates' expected return has been dashed, with the centre-back yet to return to full training with the rest of the first-team squad.

In association with Grand Central.

In association with Grand Central.

Jones is edging closer to a place in the Pools side, having taken part in the full contact sessions with the squad this week.

Although, he is still rated as doubtful by Hignett, who is loathe to rush the 36-year-old back at Barnet, given that he has missed more than a month of action.

It could be the case that the veteran is used in the Reserves clash with Newcastle tomorrow and then assessed post-match.

Hopes had been high that Bates would be fit enough to return at The Hive.

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But having not trained with the rest of the first-team squad this week, the former England youth international is unlikely to be risked on Saturday.

Hignett said: "They are training.

"Both have missed a lot of football but they are back.

"Rob has trained with us so he is slightly closer, but we will have to wait and see."

Jones' Pools debut last year came in a memorable win at Barnet.

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That victory sparked a seven-game unbeaten run, which staved off any fears that the club would be pulled into the battle at the bottom of League Two.

"We have good memories. We played well there last time," said Hignett.

"We went a goal behind then came back to win 3-1. It set us on the little run where we went seven on the bounce.

"Sometimes in football you have grounds where you do well. Hopefully Barnet is that for us.

"It will be a good game but a different one to what we have been used to. They have got a certain way of playing.

"We are good enough to deal with it, though. We can hurt teams."